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Moldova's fertile soil (chernozem) produces plentiful grapes, fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, and milk products, all of which have found their uses in the national cuisine. The fertile black soil combined with the use of traditional agricultural methods permits the growth of a wide range of ecologically clean foods in Moldova.
The Moldovans share many foods with Romanians. The local cuisine can be best described as drawing inspiration and elements from other cuisines in the region, including Greek, Byzantine, Slavic (Polish, Ukrainian and Russian), with a great influence made by the Ottoman cuisine.
Perhaps the best known Moldovan dish is a well-known Romanian dish, mămăligă (a cornmeal mush or porridge). This is a staple polenta-like food on the Moldovan table, served as an accompaniment to stews and meat dishes or garnished with cottage cheese, sour cream, or pork rind. Regional delicacies include brânză (a brined cheese) and ghiveci (a lamb or goat stew). Local wines accompany most meals.
Traditional for the Moldovan cuisine are dishes combining diverse vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, aubergine, cabbage, beans, onions, garlic, and leek. Vegetables are used in salads and sauces, and they are baked, steamed, pickled, salted, or marinated.
The various kinds of borș (ciorbă) include a wide range of soups with a characteristic sour taste. These may be meat and vegetable soups, or fish soups, all of which are soured by borș (traditionally made from bran), or lemon juice. Chicken soup with meat, known as zeamă, is very popular.
Meat products hold a special place in traditional Moldovan cuisine, especially as an appetizer or the first course. Roasted and grilled pork, beef meatballs (known as pârjoale and chiftele), and steamed lamb are common. Meat and fish are often marinated and then grilled.
Traditional holiday dishes include stuffed cabbage rolls with minced meat (known in Romania as "sarmale", and in Turkey as "dolma"), pilaf (a rice dish), pork jelly, noodles, chicken, etc. The holiday table is usually decorated with baked items, such as pastries, cakes, rolls, and buns, with a variety of fillings (cheese, fruit, vegetables, walnuts, etc.), known (also in Romania) as "cozonac", "pască", "brânzoaice (Poale-n brâu moldovenești)", and "Sfințișori".
In certain areas, the cuisine of various ethnic minorities is predominant. In the Eastern areas, Ukrainians eat borscht; in the South, the Bessarabian Bulgarians serve the traditional mangea (chicken with sauce), while the Gagauz prepare shorpa, a highly seasoned mutton soup; in the Russian communities, pelmeni (meat-filled dumplings) are popular. Other very popular dishes include a variant of Ukrainian varenyky called colțunași, filled with fresh white cheese (colțunași cu brînză), meat (colțunași cu carne), or cherries.
Mămăligă with cheese and greaves
Sparkling wine has a special place in Moldovan cuisine. The country produces large quantities of classic white and pink sparkling wines, as well as red sparkling wines that were originally introduced in Moldova. The most famous sparkling wines are those made in the Cricova winery. Well-known brands of Moldovan sparkling wines are Negru de Purcari, Moldova, Chişinău, Cricova, Muscat spumant, National, Nisporeni, etc. They are made from a wide range of European grape varieties, including Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot menie, Sauvignon, Aligote, Traminer pink, Muscat blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot noir. The local variety Feteasca Albă, also used in sparkling wines, has been cultivated in Moldova since the times of ancient Dacia.
Invârtită (Specific Moldovan food) filled with cheese.
- Moldovan Cuisine on allmoldova.com
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